Interview: August James

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I was able to sit down with August James, an incredibly impressive independent pop artist who writes, sings, and produces all his own music that has become the newest soundtrack to my life. Specifically, we are eagerly anticipating the release of his debut EP ‘Warm Air’ which will be released on all streaming platforms on July 20th, a nostalgic six-track collection that perfectly bottles up the feeling of reminiscing on young love, the brink between teenagehood and adulthood, and the simple bliss of summertime. If you’re reading this, consider yourself very lucky because, to put it simply, you’re witnessing the start of an absolute superstar!

Lost In Concert: Hi August! To start, I’d love to hear three fun facts about yourself to share with readers who are just getting to know you and your journey. 

August James: Hi! Thanks for having me! I guess the first fun fact I should probably say is that I used to be a circus performer… which is always like my go-to for two truths and a lie and fun facts and stuff. I grew up doing flying trapeze and wheel-of-death and stuff and did some professional work with it after high school. I still train and perofrm sometimes – It’s probably the thing I’m most passionate about besides music. The second one is that I flipped a coin to decide where to go to college. That’s another go-to fun fact. And Third, I’m a big green tea drinker. I start most mornings with a hot cup of green tea or an iced matcha.

LIC: So many artists these days have their own writers and producers and collaborators. How were you inspired and able to teach yourself the production side of making music? Out of writing, singing, or production, does one or two come more naturally to you, or are more exciting to execute in the process of working on a song?

AJ: I started producing before I started writing or singing really. We got school-issued iPads in sixth grade and they had GarageBand on them. I would sit in my geography class and make trap beats. It’s funny to think about that now because I am obviously not making trap beats anymore… it just slowly turned into whatever I make now. No iPads or GarageBand anymore though, although they were great tools. So in that sense, I guess I would consider myself a producer more than a writer or a singer. That’s what comes most naturally to me and what I look forward to most. I definitely wouldn’t consider myself a singer per se… I mean I sing but it’s not like my “craft” if that makes sense. But I really love every process involved with making a song and I think that’s why that process has always been very independent for me.

LIC: How were the six tracks in your EP ‘Warm Air’ chosen to be put together and represent who you are as an artist today? How did the process putting this EP together change over time to become what it is now?

AJ: At first, I didn’t really know I was making an EP. I was just making songs and then realize that they were thematically similar… so it wasn’t until like halfway through writing it that I realized I was making a project. And even when I started earnestly working on an EP, it started with a totally different concept. It was gonna be space themed and have a lot of sciencey, metaphysical sort of stuff. But it naturally evolved as I kept working on it and became ‘Warm Air’ really organically. 

LIC: How long did putting the EP together take? Did you collaborate with anyone else during this time of putting together the EP? 

AJ: The first file that ended up becoming a song on the EP is from January 2022. That became ‘Miss Your Flight’. But the first couple of songs started to really take shape last summer and I decided I was making an EP in March 2023. Then I was making music every day for a couple of months until it felt done. Originally it was going to come out in June or even May but… it always takes longer to make music than I expect. Since March, I’ve been working really closely with my best friend ever Sophie Weil… she’s like the most talented person I know. She’s been doing a lot of the visuals for this project… the photos are just next level… and she’s been helping with promo stuff. We’re gonna take over the world together. It’s annoying to say that but I feel it in my soul.

LIC: How did you decide on the title “Warm Air” for your EP? What does that mean to you and how is that encapsulated visually in the EP cover?

AJ: This project had… so many names before I landed on “Warm Air.” So many names. It was going to be called “Escapades” at one point, which ended up being the title of the first track. Originally, I was going to call it “Rocket Science.” That’s when it had some heavy space theming. I still like that name a lot actually, maybe I’ll end up using it someday… but I landed on “Warm Air” because there’s a lyric in “Escapades”: “This is warm air.” I knew I wanted to use a lyric from that song and I was asking all my friends what lyric they thought would make the best title. And people kept saying “Warm Air.” I honestly wasn’t feeling it at first… but then I was like wait… this is warm air. I just feel like it encapsulates a lot of the summery themes on the project. Plus I just love when artists use a lyric from a random verse as the title for a whole project. 

LIC: What inspires the lyrics in these songs? How many of these lyrics are inspired by fictional or nonfictional events?

AJ: I sort of hate to say it just because of how cliché it is… but this is very much a project about love. Not that I’m some expert in love… but I’m just so inspired by the people I interact with in that was. A lot of people besides me live in these songs. Thank you and also sorry to those people. I also write a lot about people I yearn for, even if they’re totally out of reach – I write a lot of non-fiction but I also write a lot of fiction. Or I change stories just a tiny bit so they make better songs. Maybe I’m ruining the magic by saying that. But my music is the memorization of these feelings and memories, so might as well make them interesting. Also though, I think that there is a lot of stuff besides love in here. A lot of friendship and nature that I hope comes through.

LIC: What music or artists have inspired you recently? Do you have any dream collaborators?

AJ: I’ve been so inspired by Ryan Beatty lately. His new record ‘Calico’ is just… wow. So special. I love how subtle he is. Caroline Polachek too. Sort of the opposite of subtle, but “Desire, I Want To Turn Into You” is so perfect. That album has real magic in it. She has been inspiring me to branch out a little bit and use sounds that maybe aren’t instinctual for me or don’t show up in most pop music; to use sounds just because I think they’re cool. In terms of collaborations… I mean it has to be Lorde. She’s just so next level. I want to just sit in the studio while she and Jack Antonoff make her next album and not even add anything. Just say “Oooo I like that synth. I hate that snare.” I think that’s the most I could offer to a collaboration with those powerhouses. Also Maude Latour! I think we could make some magic together. 

LIC: Finally, do you have any goals as an artist for your future that we can memorialize and manifest in writing today? 

AJ: Ooooo such a fun question. There’s this venue in Minneapolis, right by where I grew up, called The Armory. For some reason every city has a venue called The Armory. It’s not even that huge of a venue. It’s big, but it’s not like an arena or something. But I’ve always thought that if I could play there, it would really mean I’d made it. In terms of collabs, is it illegal to say Jack Antonoff again? That’s like the cop-out answer. But really, I’m manifesting here that I will work with him someday!!!

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